Earlier today, we went to the Iowa state fair in Des Moines to track a few of the candidates and get a look at their application of retail politics, which as Jazz Shaw noted in his earlier post, is really how candidates succeed in Iowa caucuses and straw polls. Herman Cain and Ron Paul gave speeches at the Des Moines Register’s “soapbox” venue during the day, but didn’t take questions from their very responsive and enthusiastic crowds. Tim Pawlenty did, however, and one questioner berated Pawlenty for his stand on traditional marriage — which Pawlenty used as an opening to politely offer his position:
This comes as a bit of a contrast from yesterday’s dust-up at the exact same venue for Mitt Romney. Romney lost his cool a little bit in dealing with a heckler during a Q&A, and the clip made all of the Iowa television news broadcasts later in the afternoon. This was actually the second hostile interaction Pawlenty had during his appearance; during the speech, a man continually yelled things like “You’re lying!” at the stage, to which Pawlenty dryly noted that Americans have the right to express themselves in public.
As with the earlier case, Pawlenty refused to get into a running debate with the man. He waited patiently for him to finish and then gave his policy position, and when the man refused to stop yelling, just said, “We’re just going to have a respectful disagreement,” and turned to take another question. The man in this video pulled out a sign and continued to speak as Pawlenty left the stage, which drew the attention of the media. Later, though, Guy Benson saw the same man holding a sign for Barack Obama and cheering Debbie Wasserman-Shultz during her “soapbox” appearance, which makes this questioner a bit of a provocateur — a failed one, in this case.
Here is Pawlenty’s last pitch during his speech, which came just prior to the exchange above. The crowd was only a little smaller for Pawlenty than it was for Ron Paul, and quite enthusiastic; Cain’s also drew a good-sized crowd. Fred Karger was another story entirely.
Update: Someone on Twitter called my description of the questioner as a heckler “ludicrous” and demanded an apology. None will be forthcoming. Although the original question was certainly legitimate (and I have often written about getting government out of marriage), the activist didn’t like the answer and kept on trying to interrupt — to the point where people around him began telling him to knock it off. My microphone is pretty directional and it’s hard to pick up on the video when I have the camera pointed back to Pawlenty, but that’s what I saw. That’s an example of heckling, as I see it.